Saturday, March 12, 2011

There may be hope for math education

This guy is awsome. My oldest son and I attended Scott Flansburg's show at Smuget in Oslo this evening. I do not know if my son was comming voluntarily, but after the show he was enthusiastic about trying it all out.
But what would the teachers say? His fear was that they would not appreciate the alternative techniques. I think that is part of the challenge with the Norwegian schooling system - teachers are trained to be able to teach everything without being specialized in anything. So they have one approach (hopefully) to how things should be done, and anything else should be corrected.

Scott told the audience that he had had discussions with the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. Schooling may be a key agenda point in future elections, and I wish more people than me were willing to look for other political forces to put right the sorry state of our education system. And if we ended up with celebrating good theoretical achievements in addition to those of athletes, then we may be better prepared.

In the picture of the flyer you can see that the ministry is one of the sponsors of the event (lower right corner). But I stumbled across it by accident, so I suspect that the ministry actually does not want this kind of attention.

By the way, here is Google translated coverage of OECD's advice on how the Norwegian schooling system should be improved.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Paper tape programming tool

We all know how programming is done these days. But it has not always been so. I was first exposed to programming (BASIC) on a Tandberg desktop computer in 1979 (I think), but even then the screen and keyboard combination was a fact.

Was there anything before that? Well certainly - there were paper tape and punched cards. I have never used such technology myself, but I have the device in the picture in my posession. It consists of some pieces of aluminium that have been machined to work as a primitive programming/repair tool for paper tape. The actual holes were made with a broken off screwdriver in the lower right.
This device was a write-only tool on its own. But I guess anyone using it would also have a suitable reader as well.